COLUMBIA, SC. - Fourteen defendants were arraigned in Federal Court on a thirty-seven count indictment. The indictment alleges that all were members of a criminal street gang and that gang members conspired to distribute more than 280 grams of “crack” cocaine, more than 100 grams of heroin, and marijuana, and that they used various places on the East Side of Charleston to manufacture and distribute drugs.
United States Attorney William N. Nettles noted that the indictment is the result of the City of Charleston Police Department working in tandem with federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An Assistant Solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit has been designated by the United States Department of Justice as a Special Assistant United States Attorney to work with Nettles’ Violent Crime Task Force.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented, “All participating agencies played a crucial role in this investigation. All our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts continue to work together to make this community a safer place. ”
Nettles commended the efforts of these law enforcement agencies working the investigation. “I don’t want to speak about this specific case except to say that teamwork works. Always, the community benefits when we all act in unison by sharing information, resources, intelligence, and efforts.”
Chief Greg Mullen of the City of Charleston Police Department said that the partnership between the federal agencies and local police is effective. “We are all working together to combat any criminal street gangs operating in our community. Working with our federal partners, we have been able to achieve results far beyond those possible with just our resources.”
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said that her experience as an Assistant United States Attorney convinced her that coordinating state, federal and local efforts produces the greatest result. “This is the best way to have a positive and long-term effect for the community” she noted, stating that in tough economic times it is always better to share resources.”
Supervisory Special Resident Agent Brian Womble of the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted that: "Violent crime is a major issue in the region and the FBI is pleased to contribute to this successful joint investigative effort."
The fourteen individuals who were indicted were CALVIN LEVAR DIXON, MICHAEL ANGELO HAYES, ARNOLD TERRELL BELLINGER, JAMILE RAYNOD HARLEY, KEVIN LEMORT COAXUM, IMAN GANTT, KADRIN CHRISTOPHER SIMMONS, LAQUELL TAKEEM DIXON, KENNETH BERNARD BROWN, SHABAZZ ROMELL WISE, MONTRELL SHARIFE WISE, TONY BROWN; WALTER DEMEATRUS BROWN, CHARLES FABERS.
If convicted, all of the defendants face an enhanced ten-year federal sentence for their alleged membership in a criminal street gang. Additionally, because of the weight of drugs alleged to have been distributed over the life of the conspiracy, eight of the defendants would face a mandatory term of life imprisonment without parole on conviction. These are Arnold Bellinger, Kevin Coaxum, Jamile Harley, Montrell Wise, Tony Brown, Walter Brown Laquell Dixon, and Charles Fabers. Also, if convicted, Michael Hayes, Calvin Dixon and Shabazz Wise each face a mandatory minimum twenty sentence and a maximum of life imprisonment without parole. Michael Hayes also faces an additional mandatory consecutive sentence of thirty years for two alleged violations of a federal statute which makes it unlawful to use or possess a firearm during drug trafficking crime. Kenneth Brown faces a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than ten years and not more than life. All of the defendants are also facing a ten-year sentencing enhancement based on a federal statute which makes it unlawful to be a member of a criminal street gang.
Mr. Nettles advised that all of the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. He said that Assistant United States Attorney Sean Kittrell and Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Linder of the Charleston office are coordinating the investigation and prosecuting the case.
DEA Atlanta Field Division SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.